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I love challenging myself against the best- Amrinder Singh

Written by: Neelam

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The Bengaluru FC shot-stopper spoke exclusively to Khel Now on his early days, life at BFC and the future of Indian football...

Amrinder Singh, despite being only 23 years of age has made a name for himself in Indian football circles, for being a solid, reliable man between the sticks. The goalkeeper has established himself as the No. 1 keeper at Bengaluru FC, one of India’s premier clubs in the I-League and AFC Cup. 

Amrinder joined the excellent academy at then I-League side Pune FC in the summer of 2011. That year itself, he broke into the first team fray, earning himself a debut with the senior members in a Federation Cup game. The 23-year old, hailing from the town of Hoshanipur in Punjab happily recalled some of his first associations with football. “I grew up kicking a ball against a wall at my home in Punjab. Everyone in the village used to play football and I spent a lot of my time on the field. I started playing at the local level as a striker after which my coach suggested that I consider goalkeeping as a position. I’m glad I listened to him as one thing led to another and I find myself playing a sport that I love, at the highest level in the country.”

He continued talking about his home state, commenting on the rise of professionals coming from there. He said, “Punjab has always produced sportsmen over the years so it isn’t really a surprise that the state has produced some fine talent in football too. JCT as a club was an institution where all the top players have played at, at some point in their career. There are a few academies that are doing some very good work with limited resources. I hope we keep producing players that go on to represent the country.”

Singh continued his smooth rise at the Pune club and the national level, as he soon found himself first choice both at club and national U-23 levels. In 2015, after cementing a spot with Atletico De Kolkata in the second edition of the Indian Super League, Amrinder soon signed for Bengaluru FC, with whom he has gone on to win the title, along with many other memories.

Amrinder came through the ranks at former I-League club Pune FC.

AshleyWestwood had been coach of the JSW owned club since its inception, but Albert Roca’s arrival at the club has spelled a topsy turvy time for the club. Beyond that, Roca, being a product of the famed La Masia academy has brought his own signature to the side. Amrinder has now played under both gaffers and he outlined the difference between the two. “They are completely different coaches with different philosophies and personalities. Albert Roca likes to start play from the back which means I am a lot more involved in terms of picking the right passes. I’ve learnt a lot under both.”

“I have a lot of good friends on the circuit and I get along well with everyone. At BFC, we all live together in the same society which is really nice. At training, I love coming up against Sunil bhai (Sunil Chhetri). He’s the best in the country and I love challenging myself against the best. Like me, he is very competitive which means the ‘battles’ are always intense!”

When enquired about his disappointment at missing out on some big games like the AFC Cup Final last year, Amrinder remained upbeat, “It is obviously very disappointing to sit out of big games like the ones you’ve mentioned. But there’s not much you can do about it except cheer the team on from the sidelines and work hard to earn your place back into the side. It’s all part and parcel of the game.” He continued, reiterating his desire to be the best. “To be the best you have to master every aspect of the game and that’s exactly what I have been working on. The effort is always to be better than what I was in the last game. There is no end to earning and getting better.”

The shot-stopper is enjoying life under new managewr Albert Roca.

This season, though, has been a struggle for the Blues of Bengaluru, with the side failing to grind out a consistent run of results. Of this, the shot-stopper mentioned, “It has been a very difficult season for us and we are not where we would like to be on the league table. There are so many factors that have contributed to that but we can’t use any of that as an excuse. We need to keep our focus because there is a lot of football left to play. We need to finish as high as possible in the league and then there is the AFC Cup and the Federation Cup to play for. We have got our AFC Cup campaign off to a good start and we need to build on this.”

Despite their domestic struggles, Bengaluru have a lot to play for this season, especially in the Cup competitions. The 6 feet 1 inch ‘keeper talked up his side’s chances of making this a successful season for the club. “You are in football to win medals and my aspirations are not any different. The league is out of our reach but we have the AFC Cup and we showed the world how good we can be against the best in Asia by making the Final last season. I don’t see why we should not aspire to go one step further. The Federation Cup is a title we would like TO bring back to Bengaluru. Then there are the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers and the whole country will be backing us to make it to the main tournament.” 

Lastly, Amrinder was also quizzed on the changes he’s observed and the near future of Indian football itself, including the headline event, the U-17 World Cup to be held in India this October. “If I had to put a finger on the one  thing that has changed a lot it is the awareness of the Indian football fan. We are still far away from where we should be but that is changing slowly. People are a lot more aware about the national team, the leagues, the players and that is very heartening to see. But that aside, so much has changed and so much still needs to change.”

“This is a very important phase in Indian football and we need to make the most of it by organizing a quality competition. The footballing world will be looking at India and this is a great chance to show everyone how much we are improving on and off the field. I wish the team the best of luck and I am sure they will do everything to make us proud,” Amrinder signed off.

Published: Wed Apr 05, 2017 09:15 PM IST

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